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Improving your health can start in the kitchen. “It varies from person to person, but a lot of times people notice a difference in a week,” said Erika Graziani, a dietitian and outpatient nutrition program coordinator with Lee Health.

A plant-based diet can lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. “A plant-based diet, think about foods as grown. We’re talking about fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds,” she said.

A plant-based diet minimizes or eliminates processed foods and animal products, and focuses on whole foods. This gives your body a variety of different phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. “You want to try to eat things close to their natural form as possible. An example would start with an orange in the whole form; it has the most nutrition. Once that gets turned into juice it’s lost its fiber,” said Graziani.

Keeping foods in their whole form gives your body the most health benefits. “Some people are designed to where they can dive in, and they do great with that method. And then they realize how great they feel,” she said.

But if you need to start slower, start by substituting things like steamed vegetables or a side salad in place of French fries or chips. “A couple of times a week even start to do a meatless meal where you substitute beans or tofu in place of meat,” Graziani said.

Swapping out dairy for plant-based milk and yogurts can also help you transition to a plant-based diet. Making better food choices can help you feel your best and strengthen your overall health.

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